The following post was written by Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day:
Rose hips are one of my favourite wild foods, and the sight of a few of them clinging to an otherwise bare hedge is always welcome in late winter. They are delicious and full of vitamin C, but tricky to eat.
Those of you – and I’m sure there are a few! – who were (or are) practical jokers, may remember that the hairy insides of these innocuous looking fruits make a truly lethal itching powder. So remember that if you inadvertently eat the hairy bits from around the pips they have a similar effect internally; your digestive system will not thank you for it.
I have made rosehip syrup several times and it is delicious – really delicious – but it is a bit of a fiddle to make, and not really practical in the woods.
My favourite way to eat them when I’m out and about is to carefully pick those that have gone mushy (they turn a duller red), and squeeze the pulp out through the end where the rosehip was attached to the bush, using the index finger and thumb of both hands so it gets squeezed 4 ways.
Done carefully, you get a little nugget of pure rosehip – if you’re too rough the pips escape and get mixed in and you have to discard that one and try again….
The closest thing I can think of taste-wise is ripe kiwi fruit, but it’s not quite like anything else I can think of. There are still a few about, though I doubt they’ll stay for much longer. I spotted some fluffy Pussy Willow flowers on my canoe trip, almost out, Spring is nearly upon us!
– Sarah Day